ESD challenges on RFID devices

Jacob, P.

Electronic Device Failure Analysis, 21(4), 12-18. 2019

Nearly everyone carries radio frequency identification (RFID) devices in their pockets today. Examples include contactless access cards and key transponders, car keys, laundry identification, and credit or debit cards with contactless payment functions. In principle, these tools simply consist of a microelectronic chip and an antenna. The antenna could be a printed folded dipole, printed coil (usually aluminum), or wound coil (usually copper). If such an RFID setup is located near the reader unit, the reader acts as the primary coil of a transformer, thus supplying the chip with the required energy. When powered, the RFID sends the collected data to an external circuit. Powered by the antenna reader, dedicated data is sent by the RFID to the antenna. Data is received by the reader unit and sent to a linked computer, which compares the data stored in the RFID to what is stored in the computer. This enables functions such as opening doors, unblocking car immobilizers, or scanning parcels. These small devices, many of them integrated in smart cards, are exposed to numerous electrostatic discharge (ESD) risks in manufacturing and field applications.